after "Dryvember" (coughs) was a relative failure, I have striven to make up for the at least expected lack of bowze in December. Hence, unsurprisingly, I have had little time to remain sober. Sorry, to write. My review of a beer festival a month and slightly over a month ago therefore appears now. Soz un all.....
The New Inn at Cropton is famous for having two breweries - or, at least, two brewing companies based there. Cropton Brewery is the longer established outfit and produces mainly cask ales and bottles. The new fella is The Great Yorkshire Brewery, who produce cask and keg with potentially more emphasis on keg, as well as bottles. For 20 odd years now the New Inn has held a beer festival to not only promote its wares, but also treat pub=goers to a wider range of UK real ales and to provide camping and live music.
Last year as you may recall the weekend of the Cropton beer festival, starting on the 22nd November, was when Wee Fatha was rushed into hospital so we didn't go. This year, although Jambon and Jo pulled out late on, me and Wee Keefy decided to travel oop North as a kind of pilgrimage to WF - we even rang him Saturday morning, to receive a ten minute moan about his Doctors - so we knew he was well.
Arriving around Midday we got parked behind the pub and set up camp in the field opposite. By 13.00 we were in the marquee drinking. I started with a half of Hopcraft "whose been sleeping in my brain" and we had other beers from Banks and Taylors and Gyle 59. If I have a criticism of Cropton festival, and its a small one, its that you, as well as the staff don;t know where the beers are, or indeed which ones are on. And the names on the signs are often wrong. But hey, that's a minor issue. It makes things more fun....
After 2 pints we went for a walk in the village, along a muddy track and then back as we lost track of the path, before returning to the tent after seeing the sun for 20 minutes break through the heavy fog, to eat dinner before returning to the festival. It was far busier now and we got sat near the food area and started trying beers, more from Gyle 59 and Moor, invluding So Hop and Dark Alliance, and chatting to persons from bike clubs and Sheffield band Kingfisher Blue. We also ate, and the food was lovely, and went for a walk in the black fog to find "phone signal" - we failed. On returning we eventually moved into the pool room and I began my 3rd of 5 pints of the Art Brew Double IPA at 7.2% - and a bargain £3.20 a pint.
This is a great festival with a good and varied range of ales, decent food, and, if you are still "young" enough to like camping, fantastic free accommodation! We both hope to be returning next year.
The next week was Shakespeares 2014 Autumn beer festival. Having acquired funds me and Tash went Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed the range of beers, perhaps excepting the odd Wild beer co ones which were um....odd?
One of the great things about Shakespeares festivals of late was the availability of good quality and well priced keg beers from small UK and other breweries - a highlight of which included Radler from Burning Sky, a distinct lemony ale with lost of subtle hops to unsweeten it, as well as an excellent IPA from Kernel.
Alas, in th intervening month since the festival I have contrived to mis-file all my copies of the beer list. Luckily, my erstwhile drinking companions Mike and Danny write their own beer blog, so I have borrowed some details of the beers they tried to fill out my own piece. I haven't asked their permission, but assume they don't mind....
So, the beers I tried definitely, were:
Five Towns V2 Schneider Dunkel
Weird beard K**ntish Town
Loch Lomond Simcoe
Moor Dark Alliance
Brewsmith Oatmeal Stout
Waen Avalanche Pale
George Wright Yorkshire Brown Ale
Siren Ryseing Tides IPA
Arbor NZ Amber
Bridestones/Steel City Brewing So Craft It Hurts (vanilla aged stout)
Kernel Pale ale Citra Mosaic
To Ol Fuck Art this is religion (barrel aged double)
Beers of the festival were the Burning Sky New Gods Radler, the Waen Avalanche and my most drunk favourite, the Siren Ryseing Tides, a "tidy" 7.4% pal ale that drank like a far lower strength ale, but was packed with complimentary rye and tangy hops.
Both these festivals were excellent but really quite different. The main thing linking em, however, was hard work and dedication by the venues involved, and absolutely cracking real ale and keg beer. Looking forward to the next ones.